U.S. workers filing for unemployment aid remains the lowest in 52 years in the week leading up to Christmas amid the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. 

As of Dec.25, the initial unemployment claims totalled 198,000, which was a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week's revised level, according to data released by the Labor Department on Thursday. This was the lowest average seen since Oct. 25, 1969. 

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 208,000 applications for the latest week. The DOJ reported the 4-week moving average at 199,250, a decrease of 7,250 of the previous week's revised average. The numbers suggest the fast spreading omicron variant has yet to impact the job market with layoffs. 

 U.S. infectious disease adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci announced on Wednesday a peak in the surge of Omicron cases is likely to come by the end of January. 

Continuing claims, which track the total number of unemployed workers collecting benefits, showed the lowest level since just before the pandemic on March 7, 2020 as it dropped to 1.72 million in the week ended in Dec.18. 

Some of the decline in claims has come from the ending of benefits through programs created during the pandemic that provided enhanced and extended payments. Despite the downward trend, the total number of those receiving benefits under programs in the week ending Dec.11 increased by nearly 40,000 to 2.18 million. 

The DOJ reports there were 20,492,081 weekly claims filed for benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2020. 

According to Jason Furman, an economist at Harvard University and the economic advisor to former President Barack Obama, the unemployment rate has "fallen farther and faster than the survey of Professional Forecasters expected." In November, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was at 4.2 percent. Furman said the forecasted rate made in November 2020 was 5.8 percent and 4.9 percent by May 2021. 

The Survey of Professional Forecasters published a report earlier this year about the monthly pace estimating an average of 555,000 jobs per month since last December. As of November, the DOJ reports there are more than 11 million jobs open. 

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